Small business owners are considered the backbone of communities and local economies. Not only are most jobs in the US created by local businesses, but they also play a significant role in boosting innovation and growth.
Small local businesses are responsible for creating over 66% of net new jobs since 2000, which comprise 97.5% of all exporters.
These organizations employ nearly half of the country’s private sector and cannot be taken lightly.
As a small business starts to thrive, it hires more people from the community where it took birth. As the local business expands, it builds more connections with other homegrown brands, fostering an ecosystem of support and growth.
When a small business succeeds, it benefits not just its team but the community as a whole.
As a small business owner, it can be easy to get caught up in daily administrative and operational tasks.
But take a minute to reflect on why you started your entrepreneurial journey in the first place.
What's your "why"?
What did you set out to achieve?
How did you intend to help your local community?
The answers to these critical questions will form the foundation of your successful local marketing strategy.
While promoting your brand can be challenging in both in-person and digital environments, once you’re clear on your brand values and goals, it makes the process a lot simpler.
We've put together a focused list to help you streamline your local marketing strategies.
If you implement local marketing strategies correctly, they’ll help you grow your business and, more importantly, deepen your impact on the local community.
What is local marketing?
Local marketing, also referred to as “neighborhood marketing,” involves targeting local customers who live or work close to the business’s location. It helps you reach out to a local audience within a certain radius of your store and is helpful for businesses with a physical presence, such as salons, clothing boutiques, or food and beverage outlets.
Local marketing differs from large-scale marketing (e.g., nationwide) in several ways.
To start with, the local audience is much narrower, so small business owners don’t need to invest as heavily to reach out to millions of people; you can just focus on the people in your local market who are most likely to purchase your products.
Marketing at the local level helps you learn more about your potential customer’s needs and desires, which informs your local marketing strategy so that you can interact with them more meaningfully.
This enables you to give your local customers a better experience and boost brand loyalty.
Local marketing strategies for local businesses: 10 you can try this year
While marketing your local business, you should combine online and offline strategies for the best results. Here are ten local business marketing strategies for your small business.
1. Optimize for local search engines
Local search engine optimization is a great way to get your local business to rank higher.
It's a series of processes that aim to improve your local search rankings in search engine result pages and boost unpaid — free — traffic to your page.
The better your local SEO, the more visibility your web page will receive across search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and more.
The search result in the first position has a click-through rate of 39.8%, on average, while the fourth has a CTR of 7.4%.
Some best practices to optimize your website for online local searches include:
Adding industry-specific keywords
Publishing relevant and updated content
Optimizing your website for load time and mobile devices
Building authority through backlinks and social proof
2. Go local on social media channels
Social media is a valuable tool for small local businesses' digital marketing as it helps you give information while engaging with your target audience.
Popular platforms such as Instagram and Facebook offer many localization features, such as the ability to tag the physical location of each photo or video and add relevant geographic hashtags. This can make it easy for the local audience to find your business listing.
You can also run ads that geographically target customers with your promotion or business offering.
Most social media platforms allow you to set location-specific filters, e.g., targeting people within a 15-mile radius of your store which will help your local marketing strategy.
3. Get listed on local directories
While getting your brand listed in local business directories may not directly improve your local SEO, it sure is an easy and budget-friendly way to promote it.
There is a wide range of business directories for you to choose from, and the more local listings you’re on, the better.
When doing neighborhood marketing, you want to make sure that the local listings contain all the essential information about your business, such as opening hours, store address, website, and contact number.
You can also include pictures of your offerings and customer reviews to encourage potential clients to choose your business.
4. Participate in local events
The best way to reach out to your community is to play an active role in its local events.
Showing locals that you’re actively invested in the neighborhood's well-being can make them more likely to support your business.
You can sponsor local events that align with your brand values.
For example, if you have a shop selling sportswear, you can ask about becoming a sponsor for a local sports team or offer free (or at-cost) apparel for a local community sports center.
Alternatively, if you sell baked goods, you can be the local sponsor who donates free branded cupcakes at at local event such as the next school recital.
Community events like these often get covered by local media outlets which can improve your brand awareness in the local area.
5. Partner with other businesses
Small businesses must work together to help each other succeed. But of course, you wouldn’t want to promote your competitor’s services and lose your existing local customers. So what can you do?
Comb through online or offline local media to find other local businesses in your area that offer complimentary services to your offerings.
If you own a hardware store, for example, you can partner with a local electrical or construction company.
You can attract customers by offering special packages that combine your products or services, helping you reach a wider local audience and bringing in more revenue.
6. Set up a loyalty program
When asked what makes someone loyal to a brand, the majority (60%) of global shoppers chose loyalty programs as the main factor.
Loyalty programs give shoppers a personalized experience and make them feel valued, encouraging more customers to become long-term, loyal fans.
Loyalty programs can be particularly effective in helping small businesses retain customers.
Depending on your budget, you can offer repeat as well as new customers discounts, freebies, rewards, or insider perks for their continued business.
7. Claim your Google Business Profile listing (formerly Google My Business)
There are many local marketing strategies that require financial investment.
Thankfully, one of the strongest local marketing tactics that local businesses at their disposal is a Google Business Profile (GBP).
Even if your store doesn't have a physical location, setting up and optimizing your Google Business Profile can make you more searchable and help you stand out from your competitors.
If a profile for your local business listing already exists, you can claim it and verify its authenticity to appear more legitimate to potential customers.
Let’s suppose you own a carpet cleaning business in Denver.
If a potential customer searches for “carpet cleaners in Colorado” on Google, you’ll want your GBP to pop up organically or through Google local service ads, complete with your contact information, business hours, and customer reviews so that you don't lose out on new customers.
8. Invest in email marketing
The global email marketing market is valued at $10.89 billion and is expected to reach nearly $18 billion by 2027.
Marketers include emails in their digital marketing strategy because they have a high ROI, help run campaigns for a target audience, and allow businesses to build relationships with current and potential customers.
There are several types of emails that you can include in your local marketing strategy. These include:
Educational or awareness emails
Card abandonment emails
Discount or offer emails
9. Send direct mail
Local SEO is awesome, but sometimes there's also a benefit to taking things offline!
Remember opening up a local newspaper or tuning in to your local radio station — the original social media platform — and reading or hearing ads?
Direct mail is an old-school but tried and true tactic that can compliment any local marketing strategy.
It involves sending physical collateral to customers’ mailboxes within a local area.
You can send printed mailers, newsletters, or promotional products to engage with your local audience and build tangible relationships.
Direct mail can be more interactive and memorable than other forms of local marketing when trying to attract new customers.
You can even take direct mail one step further by including personalized elements such as handwriting the customer’s name or signing off on the letter as part of your local marketing campaigns.
10. Focus on reputation marketing
Reputation marketing involves taking a proactive approach to managing the consumer’s perception of a brand.
It leverages branded, client-generated content content from existing customers such as positive reviews and social media comments as advertising and promotional material.
The goal is to use social proof to create awareness about your organization’s strengths and convince potential shoppers to purchase your goods or services.
If you want to utilize reputation marketing to build trust in your local market, consider trying an easy-to-use platform like NiceJob.
Thousands of local businesses use it to get improve their local SEO, get 4x more reviews and up to 2x more customers, and boost sales. Try it free, no credit card required!
Of all the local marketing ideas out there, using you customers' voice to drive business growth is one that pays dividends.
Ideas to inspire you and spark creativity for local marketing strategies
Sounds good, right? But how do local business owners — how do you — stand out from the crowd? Here are some effective local marketing ideas:
1. Host a giveaway on social media
With mobile devices in almost everyone's pockets, running a giveaway or contest on social media pages like Facebook or Instagram can be a quick way to grow your presence on the platform and thank your followers for their support.
A popular giveaway format that you've probably seen is to have people like your post, tag a friend or two, and follow your account on the social media pages of your choice to be eligible to win.
In the image above, Drovers ran a photo contest called "Show Us Your Bulls" where participants could enter for a chance to win a Drovers hat.
You can also partner with other small businesses to increase the reach and participation of the contest, effectively maximizing your social media marketing efforts.
2. Distribute branded merchandise
If you look around your home, you’ll probably find at least one piece of branded merchandise that has a logo or business name.
From calendars and fridge magnets to tote bags and hoodies, you can take advantage of several kinds of merchandise to generate local brand awareness through your offerings.
Branded merchandise can be a cost-effective way to get thousands of people to see your business name and logo as well as boost brand recognition.
For example, you can hand out eye-catching caps with your logo printed.
When someone wears that cap and goes about their daily life — on the subway, picking up coffee, or going for a run — they’ll effectively become a brand ambassador for your business.
3. Put up a sidewalk sign to attract local customers
Sidewalk signs, also known as sandwich boards, can be a simple and affordable part of small businesses' local marketing strategies.
You can catch pedestrians' attention and attract local consumers by putting a sign at your storefront.
By taking advantage of local store marketing, you can increase foot traffic and give people information about ongoing deals and daily specials or just write a catchy line to make them smile and increase your brand awareness.
Next steps for your local business marketing strategies
And that’s a wrap! Between the inspirational local marketing ideas and strategies, we hope you're feeling inspired and ready to up your local marketing efforts.
It’s vital that you stay true to your brand values and mission and educate your customers about them through your promotional activities.
Now more than ever, people are drawn toward authenticity and can notice inauthentic local online marketing efforts a mile away.
Whether it's in your local landing pages, email marketing campaigns, social media posts, or face-to-face interactions, remember to let your customers know you value them and work to uplift your community through your business.